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February 01, 2007 - Image 12

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The Michigan Daily, 2007-02-01

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4B - Thursday, February 12007

{the b-side} The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

4

'Pete and Pete': More than just a kid's show

By KIMBERLY CHOU
Associate Arts Editor
Whether you loved or hated
Nickelodeon's iconic "The Adven-
tures of Pete and Pete," ask any
American undergrad about the
magical combination of Danny
Tamborelli, a Statue of Liberty
miniature and ruined Kentucky
bluegrass, and oh, will he know
what you're talking about.
Grounded for answering the
question of "What happens when
you turn on a humidifier and dehu-
midifier at the same time?" on
Dad's prized lawn, Little Pete lit-
erally digs for freedom with Lady
Liberty, lighting his way under
the house with multi-colored holi-

day lights. Just before the rest of
the Wrigleys hurry home from
fireworks at the park, Pete finally
succeeds in tunneling to freedom.
Liberty's torch breaks the earth as
patriotic music swells tastefully in
the background.
Amazing.
But what you might not have
remembered from the first time
you watched the episode - the
first episode of the show's second
of three seasons (1993-1996) - was
the perfectly placed Hoffa refer-
ence.
As Pete is making his subter-
raneous escape, he finds an old
wallet. He opens it and looks at
its contents. "Hoffa!" he remarks.
Pete pockets the cash and keeps on

digging.
Again - amazing.
Unless you were following the
news in 1975, the reference was
probably lost on your elementary
school self (or middle school, as
Nick aired reruns until 1999).
A Wikipedia search reveals a a
list "Pete and Pete" webpage with
other pop-culture allusions that
might have gone over the heads of
its younger viewers. Notably, Little
Pete erects a monument for his late
pet lizard Gary with the epitaph
"He was the lizard king / He could
do anything," a nod to Jim Morri-
son (the episode "The Big Quiet").
And in one of the most absurd
- and ingenious - references, the
shop teacher confronts Big Pete in

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a scene similar to the Mr. Pink /
Mr. White showdown at the begin-
ning of "Reservoir Dogs" ("Tool
and Die").
What these allusions demon-
strate is the timelessness and
sheer communicability of "Pete
and Pete." Yes, the show is absurd:
In the Wrigley family alone, Mom
has a steel plate in her head and
Little Pete has a mermaid tattoo
named Petunia. Not to mention the
neighborhood superhero looks and
acts like an amphetamine-addled
Where's Waldo? and there's a stor-
yline involving a phone that's been
ringing for 27 years.
"Pete and Pete" succeeds
because of these oddball absurdi-
ties - maybe you had your own
Artie, or sold your house that one
time your parents left you and your
brother home alone for 35 hours.
Or not. Kids loved the deliciously
twisted view of American subur-
bia because it was funny, period.
Superhero Artie's face, as one
of my friends surmised, always
looked as if he was simultaneously
frowning and smiling with the
same enthusiasm. It's impossible
not to laugh. And for the stoner
college kids that made up part of
the show's viewing population,
the allusions made sense. The idea
CALVIN
From page 1B
the imagination, be it the surreal,
practical or just absurd. Where
else will you see green oatmeal
recite the infamous opening lines
of Hamlet's "to be, or not to be"
speech?
The prologue of "The Essential
Calvin and Hobbes" collection is
a short poem concerning the basic
fear of monsters, titled "A Nauseous
Nocturne." (What's a nocturne?)
Written in a simple lymric varia-
tion, amid watercolors of fantastic
monsters, the reader comes across

of Iggy Pop as someone's dad was
more bizarre than George Carlin
as the conductor on "Shining Time
Station" (which is in different story
in itself).
"Pete and Pete" is part of the
recent deluge of vintage televi-
sion series to DVD. Whether you
decide to watch it with your col-
lege friends or introduce it to the
kids you babysit, it's a win-win
situation. Watching the afternoon
programming of your childhood
at 3 a.m. after a party is certain to
awaken a bittersweet nostalgia.
And when you're explaining the
intricacies of the second season to
an 8-year-old, you'll finally realize
what it felt like for your babysit-
ter when she taught you about the
Teamsters.

CARGO
From page1lB
preaching through John Col-
trane's saxophone. If you can't
find some comfort in their work,
how about the poetry of Bob
Dylan or Leonard Cohen?
The words don't have to be
explicitly spiritual to convey a
greater love. Different religions
have different ways of expressing
this higher meaning, but ifa les-
son from music can be translated
to theology, it's that its best to
blend voices. I don't only listen
to gospel - in fact, I don't think
there's a genre I wouldn't like to
explore. But for me it seems like
the music that most moves me
can be traced back to holy roots.
It's a strange dichotomy between
what I listen to and what I believe
- or what I feel and what I think
I know. It's human nature to seek
meaning in things, and music is
no exception, but if you let go of
the message and concentrate on
the energy, sit back and open your
ears and mind, you might just find
yourself vibrating along with the
universe.
- Cargo vibrates within
the deepest confines of the
universe. He also enjoys fine
red wines, b'asketball, physics
and blonde women. E-mail
him at lhcargo@umich.edu.
good companion in a weird sort of
way." She meant something more
along the lines of "Orange with
stripes."
The spiritual and philosophical
themes found in the strip have no
precedent and no successor. When
asked what he believes will happen
when we die, Hobbes responds,
"I think we play saxophone for an
all-girl cabaret in New Orleans."
When Hobbes asks Calvin why
they play war and notcpeace, Calvin
responds, "Too few role models."
As the two careen through the
forest on either a red wagon (think
"Radio Flyer") or a sled, our two
heroes meader through conver-
sations concerning predetermi-
nation and destiny. In the strip's
literal context, Calvin is a spoiled
brat. But take him out of the comic
world and apply him to the world
around you and you'll see just how
deep his insights can be. Granted,
we're talking about Watterson
here, who, like many authors of all
genres beforehim, was able touse a
simple child character as a mirror,
foil and spoiler for the real world.
The last "Calvin and Hobbes"
strip, which printed on Dec. 31,
1995, ends with Calvin declaring
to Hobbes (on a sled, of course)
that the world they are about to
explore is magical. It certainly is,
and Watterson's comic strip, all 10
years of it, is a simple reminder of
that fact.

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words such as "sul'frous" and
"ventricles." "Outright scarinous"
is rhymed with "multifarious."
One stanza reads: "The monster, in
his consternation, / Demonstrates
defenestration, / And runs and
runs and runs and runs away."
Poll as many English majors
as you like - you'll find few who
actually know what "defenes-
tration" means (noun: the act of
throwing a thing or esp. a person
out of a window). This is the open-
ing to a book of comic strips, and
right off the bat the reader is either
totally nonplussed, searching for a
dictionary or both.
For Calvin, the world around
him is wondrous, to be wondered
at, mocked and dissected. He
describes Moe, his bully, as hav-
ing a "monosyllabic vocabulary."
He claims "gravity is arbitrary."
When Susie Derkins, his feminine
foil, quietly asks him what the
capital of Poland is during a test,
Calvin quickly answers "Krakow"
- not because he knows the his-
toric capital of Poland, but rather
because that's the sound he makes
to represent the sound of space-
ship missiles firing.
While making a poster for his
lost friend Hobbes, a stuffed tiger
named after the philosopher with
a less-than-positive outlook on
mankind, Calvin's mother sug-
gests he describe him: "On the
quiet side. Somewhat peculiar. A

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